I’ve hit a new low as I beg my kids to let me smell their chocolate. It’s a stark contrast from my old life—the one before I embarked on a strict diet to manage Crohn’s Disease more naturally. And I’ve discovered the million dollar secret to weight loss: stop eating sugar and wheat.
I used to think people with food allergies had some sort of extra-strength survival skills and a crazy amount of self-control. The first time I witnessed a friend politely decline dairy at a meal, I wanted to cry for her. As the gluten-free crowd grew, I experienced sincere, deep sadness for them. Because there’s just no pizza crust that compares to one stretched from glorious wheat. I remember meeting a lady in a yoga class who said she couldn’t tolerate any amount of sugar. I wondered if she would ever be happy again.
There’s nothing simple about these diets. In a culture of convenience and a bazillion choices, this is an exhausting swim against the current. There’s no gas station snacks, drive-thru for lunch or $5 pizza. Festivals, fairs and parties find me sporting a fanny pack of boiled eggs, beef jerky and a banana. Ice cream means blended bananas minus the cream. I might as well skip the entire middle section of aisles at grocery stores, which is probably good since it now takes triple the time to inspect ingredients and drive around town to three different stores gathering organic, grass-fed, grain-free, dairy-free treasures.
WHERE’S THE FOOD?
Once the golden groceries are safely tucked into their places of honor at home, I often stand in front of the open refrigerator and wail, “There’s no food in our house, only ingredients to make food!” And so begins another week of washing, dicing, chopping, pureeing and freezing. Last week, I began making my own almond milk. I told the kids they must forevermore call me the Pioneer Woman.
The kids are along for this joy ride, so I’m constantly working to feed them well without depriving them of a magical, American childhood. Sometimes I score: “Mom, I can tell I’ve had too much sugar.” “Mom, this soup (brimming with nutritious root vegetables) is delicious!” Other times, it’s a giant fail. Let’s just say none of them will ever don a shirt that says, “I love kale.” I think that, deep down, they appreciate my efforts to color our honey-sweetened, almond flour cookies with natural food dye made from beets.
There are days when I want to throw the cauliflower out the window and fill my plate with sinful carbs at my weekly ladies’ Bible study. I dream of holding a creamy, sugar-laden mocha in my hands and how incredibly pleasurable that first sip would feel on my tongue. I fantasize about the crunch of a real potato chip. But, then I remember that I chose this diet—the Specific Carbohydrate Diet—because I want to grow older, as healthy as possible, with no regrets.
I remind myself of the perks. I used to think I’d spend my entire life a little soft. I embraced my curves. It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried to lose baby baggage; it’s just that food tasted too good and result-oriented exercise hurt.
A few months ago, I was alarmed to feel something sharp on my body. It was the corner of my shoulder bone that I had never met. I’ve discovered that I do have cheekbones after all. As icing on the grain-free cake, I turned 40 and lost my butt. These, my friends, are consolation prizes. My diet has absolutely nothing to do with a weight-loss goal, but it’s fun to shop for clothes three sizes smaller. And if I were to be completely honest, cauliflower cheesy bread is surprisingly quite delicious.
Amy Brase is a writer who is learning to embrace the Specific Carb Diet and has a whole new appreciation for the many uses of coconut.